“This shirt is old and faded, All the colours have washed away, I’ve had it now for more damn years, That i can count anyway, I wear it beneath my jacket, With the colour turned up high, So old I should replace it, But im not about to try…”
These are the lyrics to the first verse of Mary Chaplin Carpenter’s beautiful song “The Shirt” and the inspiration for this month’s ”Secondhand Style” blog post with Jane from The Small Fabric of My Life. It’s a meaningful tale and if you listen in full, its all about how the most ordinary object (a shirt) can hold meaning, memory and emotion (Chapin’s words). Which has me thinking about my own and the garments that have been with me on my journey so far. Are you like that? Sentimental about what you have worn at certain times in your life or garments that have a story of their own? Perhaps you have a shirt? or a pair of shoes? I most certainly attach feelings and memories to the clothes in my wardrobe.. which may explain why i rarely rid myself of any 🤔 but what i thought i’d talk about is a piece i featured on IGTV last year, but have never written about. And since I print each of my blogs out and place them in a file marked: For Annabel and Penelope, “So you thought you knew your mother”, I thought this the perfect opportunity 😂
This coat is not mine, I am just it’s custodian, and have been for a year of so. This coat belongs to my eldest daughter. Last year, after the passing of her Grandmother, my mother-in-law, the emptying of her wardrobe was the emotional task beautifully and meaningfully undertaken by her daughter. At the end of which she thought it would be nice if family and close friends perhaps look at her clothing and choose a piece or two. I took my daughters with me and we each chose a piece. My youngest and I have a bag. Annabel chose this coat, of which i will now tell you what I know….
My husband’s Aunt actually inherited the coat from her Mother-in-law, who, to keep it simple is my daughter’s Great Grandma. (And then gifted it to my Mother-in-law) Her name was Dulcie and this is the story of Dulcies’s coat. Dulcie was a great lady, who loved the best of everything. Tall, beautiful and vivacious, no one enjoyed a party like she did (my late father-in-law’s words about his Mother), she always had a ciggie in one hand and a G & T in the other. She was a Melbourne socialite who married into a successful and very hard working large Irish-Australian Family. The same family I married into. Actually, they are more than a family, they are a CLAN!!
And as a member of Melbourne’s high society, Dulcie had her clothes made by dressmakers. I’ve tried to find out about the maker Diedre Anita Reynolds, but to no avail. Although the address is quite exclusive, so i’m imagining the process involved pattern sketches, fabric selection and perhaps a few other garments ordered at the same time. The coat itself is exquisitely made. The fabric is a heavy weave, lined in the most stunning red, and there is a hand stitched hem. The pattern matching is impeccable! Oh those were the days! Pure couture!
While Dulcie loved to party, play tennis and golf, she was also married to a man who was keen on horse racing. He owned many horses and raced them in Grand Nationals, Steeples and even The Melbourne Cup. The reason i tell you this , is that I can imagine Dulcie wearing this coat trackside. Perhaps a scarf covering her ears to keep out the cold and large sunnnies to disguise the hungover eyes from the fun had the night before….Looking quite the lady I imagine, with her stature and elegant coat as she watched the trainers run their horses. No one in the family can verify this, but its a nice image in my mind. And its how i think of her when i put it on. When I am “wearing clothes that tell a story…”
And for a little more style inspiration, here’s the beginning of the IGTV i featured last year…
I’ll put the full episode up in stories on Instagram.
So, while this post isn’t about my own clothes memories, it has now become so. I’ve attached meaning, memory and emotion to ” Dulcie’s Coat”. A garment that spoke to my daughter and now its story will continue….
I wonder how Jane will interpret Mary Chapin Carpenter’s words. Why not pop on over to her blog now by clicking on the link below..